It seems that the Courts are now providing the clarity the profession has called for in relation to applications for delivery up of Solicitor files by former clients. The instant case adds to a growing number of decisions where the Court has denied access to historic papers to help an often opportunistic former client.

Master Leonard, in the above case, has refused to order disclosure of historic case documents to a former client claiming to be overcharged by his Solicitor in the latest blow to Solicitor/Client costs recovery claims.

Master Leonard likened the request to an application for an order for pre-action disclosure in relation to a case that settled three years previously.

The former client in the instant case was the victim of an RTA and he sought access to records including all correspondence and VAT invoices for costs and disbursements. The parties differed on the value of the claim. The former client considered that the claim settled for £3,700 and he received £1,950 after deductions; the firm opined that the claim was settled at £2,600, of which £650 was deducted.

Master Leonard considered that the former client was in a position to know how much he paid his solicitors in 2014, and if he could not accurately recall the position it would be because he had himself not kept relevant records.

Master Leonard stressed that the evidence did not suggest that an unlawful success fee had been charged, and the court was being asked to go beyond its remit for an opportunistic former client. He concluded:

“There is no evidence, certainly not of the clear-cut kind that would be needed, of any conduct on the part of a solicitor that might make it appropriate for the court to exercise its inherent jurisdiction”.

The decision is welcome support to both Parvez v Mooney Everett Solicitors Ltd [2018] EWHC 62 (QB) and Green & Ors v SGI Legal LLP [2017] EWHC B27 (Costs).


Gemma Taylor